Why Gender Essentialism is Wrong-Headed

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hawkgrrrl
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Why Gender Essentialism is Wrong-Headed

Post by hawkgrrrl » 31 Jan 2014, 14:43

An EXCELLENT OP on this topic. This should really be required reading. Last Sunday's GD class was particularly bad because it was essentially "Why Gender Stereotypes of the 1950s are eternal," a ludicrous proposition. This article explains why the ideas that were being thrown around in that class (hunter / gatherer comparisons, 4000 years of history, women want children and are more nurturing than men, etc.) are woefully misinformed. http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/20 ... nurturing/

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Re: Why Gender Essentialism is Wrong-Headed

Post by Curt Sunshine » 31 Jan 2014, 16:00

Yeah, I liked it when I read it.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Re: Why Gender Essentialism is Wrong-Headed

Post by Roy » 02 Feb 2014, 10:33

I also liked this article.

As a naturally nurturing father, I particularly liked the following:
Children with “nurturing” fathers have higher rates of positive intellectual and cognitive development than children with more a emotionally distant father and caregiver mother. In societies that allow fathers to parent, “paternal warmth” or nurturing is recorded at equal levels as “maternal warmth” and has equally important effects on child development.xiii Here’s something that should worry fathers who leave the childcare exclusively to mom: girls whose father’s are physically present in the home but disengaged from their children have the same problems of sexual promiscuity and abusive romantic relationships as girls raised without fathers.xiv
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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Re: Why Gender Essentialism is Wrong-Headed

Post by nibbler » 02 Feb 2014, 11:01

hawkgrrrl wrote:"Why Gender Stereotypes of the 1950s are eternal,"
Ha.
He who sits alone, sleeps alone, and walks alone, who is strenuous and subdues himself alone, will find delight in the solitude of the forest.
— Buddha

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Re: Why Gender Essentialism is Wrong-Headed

Post by Shawn » 05 Feb 2014, 14:58

I loved my role in nurturing our infants. After my wife nursed the baby, I would "burp" the baby and change the diaper. I miss those days. I suppose this means I have/had lower testosterone levels :wtf:

I don't understand all that anthropological stuff and I certainly don't have the answers to perplexing issues regarding gender roles. I can say I still believe what the proclamation says:
Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose...

By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation.
It just makes sense to me that I was male in the premortal realm and will be in the next life.

Regarding gender roles, the proclamation doesn't seem too strict. Fathers are "responsible" for providing, but mothers help as "equal partners" and "individual adaptation" can be affected. Mothers are "primarily responsible" for nurturing the kids, but fathers help as "equal partners" and "individual adaptation" can be affected.

Heck, maybe if I nurtured children all day over a long period of time, my testosterone levels would decrease and bonding hormones would increase so much that I would become June Cleaver. I don't know.

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Re: Why Gender Essentialism is Wrong-Headed

Post by Joni » 07 Feb 2014, 09:52

I don't have a problem with the idea that God created me to be female. I actually enjoy my femaleness, on the whole. I have a *big* problem with God creating women to be inferior (I explained at length how I came to this conclusion in my thread on the temple).

I really wish we could stop saying things like "The man is the head of the household; the woman is the heart." Barf. According to the FP, my husband is supposed to 'preside' over our family, yet neither he nor I have a working definition of what that actually *means.* From what I can tell, presiding means that my husband picks who says the prayer at the dinner table. Unless of course he's not there and then I assign one of the kids to say the prayer. I'm not sure why prayer-choosing is so important that it takes a man to do it (and none of the verses in the D&C list that as a responsibility of the PH). And I, on the other hand, am supposed to 'nurture' which is another vaguely defined term. I am a SAHM and am happy to be so. But I've pointed out many times that 'nurturing' doesn't mean 'cleaning toilets.'

Within our marriage, we choose to define the 'presiding' and 'nurturing' terms pretty broadly. But I am sure there are families in our ward where 'presiding' translates to 'husband makes all the decisions.' Or where 'nurturing' means 'wearing yourself out trying to be Supermom.'

Another of the old chestnuts we like to throw around is, "No other success can compensate for failure in the home." I actually agree with the sentiment - our families are eternal, our wards and our jobs are not - but I sure don't love the way that statement is used as a bludgeon against working women. If it's true for women, why on earth wouldn't it be true for men as well? Shouldn't my husband be seen as a husband and father first and everything else second?

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Re: Why Gender Essentialism is Wrong-Headed

Post by Shawn » 07 Feb 2014, 13:19

Joni wrote: According to the FP, my husband is supposed to 'preside' over our family, yet neither he nor I have a working definition of what that actually *means.* From what I can tell, presiding means that my husband picks who says the prayer at the dinner table...
I found some general information:
A father is the presiding authority in his family. On this earth your initial experience of being a father of a family gives you opportunities to learn to govern with love and patience, and with your wife to teach each of your children correct principles, to prepare them to become proper fathers and mothers...

Fatherhood is leadership, the most important kind of leadership. It has always been so; it always will be so. Father, with the assistance and counsel and encouragement of your eternal companion, you preside in the home. It is not a matter of whether you are most worthy or best qualified, but it is a matter of law and appointment. You preside at the meal table, at family prayer. You preside at family home evening; and as guided by the Spirit of the Lord, you see that your children are taught correct principles. It is your place to give direction relating to all of family life.

You give father’s blessings. You take an active part in establishing family rules and discipline. As a leader in your home you plan and sacrifice to achieve the blessing of a unified and happy family. To do all of this requires that you live a family-centered life...

You prepare your family and each member in the family to serve their fellowman, to build the kingdom of God on earth. You conscientiously provide for their material well-being. In the family you learn to govern righteously. You teach your family generally and each child individually the doctrines of the kingdom...

“I repeat that plea to all fathers. Yours is the basic and inescapable responsibility to stand as head of the family. That does not carry with it any implication of dictatorship or unrighteous dominion. It carries with it a mandate that fathers provide for the needs of their families. Those needs are more than food, clothing, and shelter. Those needs include righteous direction and the teaching, by example as well as precept, of basic principles of honesty, integrity, service, respect for the rights of others, and an understanding that we are accountable for that which we do in this life” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Bring Up a Child in the Way He Should Go,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 60).

“In the home it is a partnership with husband and wife equally yoked together, sharing in decisions, always working together. While the husband, the father, has responsibility to provide worthy and inspired leadership, his wife is neither behind him nor ahead of him but at his side” (Boyd K. Packer, “The Relief Society,” Ensign, May 1998, 73).
"Father, Consider Your Ways"
I don't think it is supposed to be defined more specifically than that, so you are right about choosing to define it within your marriage. Same thing with nurturing.

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Re: Why Gender Essentialism is Wrong-Headed

Post by Curt Sunshine » 07 Feb 2014, 14:09

I think we sometimes forget that there are lots of places in the world where men are pretty much absent in the home - where the concepts of providing, nurturing and even presiding are foreign and counter-cultural. I've worked in some of those places even here in the United States, so I get intellectually a call for men to shoulder the responsibilities of parenthood and not be just baby daddies - whether married or not.

Having said that, I agree that such a message is more like the Law of Moses than the ideal / Law of Christ.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Re: Why Gender Essentialism is Wrong-Headed

Post by hawkgrrrl » 07 Feb 2014, 14:30

the proclamation doesn't seem too strict
So you view it as prescriptive, telling people what they are required to do. Some view it as descriptive, stating how things are. It seems that the church wants it to be both. The problem with that is that if it is descriptive, then you don't have to tell people what to do; they already do that. And if it's not descriptive, you are telling them to be how they are not. As Ray pointed out, we can't be neglectful (either men or women), but the notion that women are basically dependents and subordinates to men is simply not how egalitarian marriages work these days. And if men can only participate because their tender egos are stroked, that's also a pretty damning statement toward men.

For me, it's largely irrelevant. It fails to describe me, my life, or my feelings, all things I couldn't change if I saw the point, which I don't. So I (like many women I know) consider myself an exception, able to adapt. If that adaptation is unnecessary for someone because the Proc fits them, then the Proc also fails to benefit them because they are doing that naturally anyway. So it's dumb. Just my opinion.

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Re: Why Gender Essentialism is Wrong-Headed

Post by Shawn » 07 Feb 2014, 17:21

hawkgrrrl wrote:
the proclamation doesn't seem too strict
So you view it as prescriptive, telling people what they are required to do. Some view it as descriptive, stating how things are. It seems that the church wants it to be both.
I see it as prescriptive in that it provides general directions, but I don't think it gives exact rules. I see it as descriptive in that it describes the view of the church and its leaders regarding families.

The parts that fit how I am already living are beneficial to me because they affirm what I am doing and strengthen my resolve to continue on that path. Since the language of the proclamation allows for individual adaptation, there doesn't have be to an exact fit.

I don't blame you at all for the view you have on this issue. I wish you peace.
Last edited by Shawn on 22 Jan 2015, 13:04, edited 1 time in total.

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